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news releases

June 6, 2007

Contact: Darlene Yuhas (609) 984-1795
Elaine Makatura (609) 292-2994


(07/33) TRENTON - New Jersey wildlife experts will redouble their efforts to help a Monmouth County community troubled by two confirmed coyote attacks on children and a spate of reported sightings, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson announced today.

“To help ease the understandable public-safety concerns in Middletown, we will do more to educate residents about coyotes so we can replace fear with facts,” Commissioner Jackson said. “We’re also using more aggressive strategies to find the coyotes that have eluded traps for several weeks and remove these problem animals from Middletown neighborhoods,” she said.

The DEP’s wildlife experts this afternoon are meeting with township officials to formalize plans to hold a community public-education presentation for Middletown area residents. In addition to providing detailed information on coyotes and their behavior, wildlife biologists leading the public meeting, expected to be scheduled shortly, will discuss precautions residents can take to minimize interaction with the animals.

Biologists with the DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife also will assist the township with developing accurate and informative print-communications materials to share with residents interested in learning more about coyotes.

In the field, the DEP’s wildlife experts will be working with officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services Unit with special night-vision equipment to locate what biologists believe is a pack of nuisance coyotes.

Wildlife biologists have maintained a strong presence in Middletown since early April when a coyote bit a 22-month-old boy in the backyard of his grandparents’ home. The DEP set numerous snare traps, but attempts to capture the coyote were unsuccessful. On May 21, a coyote attacked a five-year-old child less than a mile from the April incident. Snare-trapping efforts are ongoing.

To assist the DEP in its effort to eliminate problem coyotes, Middletown police are authorized to shoot coyotes that are spotted during the officers’ regular community patrol.

Officially determined in 1975 to be living in New Jersey, the Eastern coyote closely resembles a small German shepherd, but has a long snout and a bushy, black-tipped tail. Another key difference from a domestic dog is readily noticeable even from a distance: The coyote has a habit of holding its tail in a horizontal position or lower while standing, walking and running.

By nature, coyotes are wary of people and generally can be chased away with loud noises. However, coyotes often lose their fear of people when they become habituated to food sources such as garbage or pet food.

To learn more about coyotes, visit



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Last Updated: June 6, 2007